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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Poor(er) under Climate Change: Youth-nity Against Poverty

In the Philippines, climate change has only been the concern of environmentalists— until recently when the floods that the typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng caused established it as a public concern which demands urgent action.

Matters of consequence

Discussed more than decades ago, climate change has always been overlooked due to the world’s attempts at tackling “matters of consequence.” But upon seeing the consequences of such neglect, most if not all the leaders of the world have acknowledged climate change as an alarming fact and have moved to address it.

Where rapid industrialization and unrelenting over development were the game, sustainable development is placed—attempting at a better, more advanced way of life with utmost consideration of its environmental impact.

Climate change worsens poverty

While climate change favours none, its effects exacerbate the already difficult life of the poor. The recent floods in the Philippines pulled many Filipinos below the poverty line while making those already poor poorer. One family in Marikina lost a successful grocery store to the flood—with it their comfortable way of living. Meanwhile a family in Tumana, subsisting on the meagre wages of the breadwinners who work as shoemakers now rely on relief goods for survival.

“The recent typhoons brought the country down to its knees, devastated and hopeless, questioning the government’s capacity to respond to the crisis. It was also enraging to know that behind the massive flooding is the government’s alleged neglect on putting the people’s safety first before releasing water from Ipo, Anggat and San Roque Dams,” explained Richard Candano, KKK Vice Chairperson and Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP) – Philippines campaigner.

The recent events caused by climate change prod us to take action. While attending to the victims of the floods, we must also tackle the long-term goal of minimizing the effect of climate change on the public, with bias to the fragile state of the poor.

We must call on government to formulate plans of action continuously maintaining public awareness about climate change by incorporating environmental awareness in the educational curriculum, immediately mitigating the impact of climate change on the poor by establishing social safety nets, and ultimately addressing the phenomenon of climate change through sustainable environmental policies.

Youth take action

Cognizant of the role of youth in propagating public awareness on climate change and how it affects poverty, anti-poverty youth group Kabataan Kontra Kahirapan (KKK, Youth Against Poverty) pioneered a photo exhibit depicting poverty and climate change shown at Ramon Magsaysay Cubao High School in Quezon City. A day before the United Nations’ International Day against Poverty, the group also spearheaded a forum about the fight against poverty and the pursuit for climate.

Kabataan Kontra Kahirapan advocates for the attainment of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and is a part of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP) - Philippine’s Stand Up Take Action! End Poverty Now! which is a contribution to UN Millennium Campaign’s Stand United, Fight Poverty campaign.

After discussing the role of the young on the mentioned advocacies, more than 5,000 high school students were also sworn to individually contribute to the eradication of poverty and the effects of climate change while collectively urging government to address the same.

Huge banners bearing the messages “Kahirapan Wakasan (End Poverty Now!), Education for All, and Climate Justice!” were dropped from the third floor of the school building to highlight the core advocacies of KKK in the campaign.

Youth take the lead

“We want the world to know that the youth are aware of what is happening and are willing to accept the challenge in improving the lives of many people, especially the poor and the marginalized,” Kabataan Konta Kahirapan National Chairperson Claudine Claridad shared.

“Is this time of worsening crises on poverty and climate change, we call on the current and future governments to shape up its priorities and policies before it’s too late. We urge the government to live up to its promises in putting the welfare of the Filipino people first, responding to climate issues as well,” continued Claridad.

“We enjoin all young Filipinos to take a lead in this crusade: our lifetime commitment to make a world liveable not only for us but for the next generations as well,” Claridad concluded. #

Reference: MEDIA STATEMENT 2009 Ref: Charity Sicad, +63 918 550 4868

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